Below is an unedited copy of the campaign letter:
Let’s Keep Gary Lewis on our City Council!
Be ware! Travis Chance and Will Britt, two current City Council members are conspiring to have Councilman Gary Lewis removed from office. Their tactic is to influence several other Afro-American candidates to oppose Councilman Lewis in the upcoming November 2011 Election and divide the votes. Travis Chance and Will Britt are not concerned for the welfare of the people of Statesboro. They have their own personal agendas they want to set into motion and control certain issues within the City. Both, Travis and Will are making false innuendos in other news publications to try and turn the voting citizens in his district against him.
If they are able to succeed and put a new face on the City Council they will have the upper hand on how the City will be run. They would be able to manipulate and intimidate the new member to get the things they want to complete the task on their personal agendas.
Councilman Gary Lewis has been the voice of the citizens of Statesboro and those in his district for more than 13 years and has stood strong in his beliefs against Travis Chance and Will Britt. Gary Lewis has always taking a vigorous stance against their bullying and Mafioso strategies. Councilman Lewis has always been an advocate for the fair treatment to all and the voice to those that feel their concerns may fall on deaf ears. Please take this into consideration in the forth coming November 2011 campaign for District 2 Council Seat. Let’s keep Councilman Gary Lewis as our voice in City Government.
A campaign handout in support of incumbent city councilman Gary Lewis circulating in Statesboro’s District 2 alleges a plot by Councilmen Will Britt and Travis Chance to force the representative from office by recruiting his opposition.
Chance and Britt deny the claims, as do the men vying for the open council seat, and take offense to what they say is a dishonest and disappointing message being spread to Statesboro citizens.
“I am offended, and I think it is pitiful that he has done this,” said Britt. “I do not know the guys that are running, and I have not contributed to their campaigns. [The message] is a lie. There is no truth to it at all.”
“It bothers me that someone is running a campaign based on lies,” he said. “It is aggravating. If he felt this way, I wish he would have talked to me.”
The flyer, which warns readers in all capital letters to “Beware,” asserts that the councilmen’s “tactic is to influence several other Afro-American candidates to oppose Councilman Lewis in the upcoming November Election and divide the votes.”
“Anyone who reads the piece of trash should consider the source,” said Chance. “Not only am I not involved in the (District 2) election, either as a candidate or constituent, but I have not met, at any time, any of the three candidates. I have no idea where this paranoia is coming from.”
The three men challenging Lewis for the District 2 council seat – Lance Turner, Sam Jones, and Donald Logan – say the letter’s claims are entirely false.
“I have not had any conversations with Travis Chance or Will Britt in reference to this race,” said Jones. “My intentions are only for myself and the people of Statesboro.”
“They haven’t talked to me, and I haven’t talked to them. No one has asked me to run,” said Logan. “I am doing this because I want to help the community.”
Turner says he has never had a conversation with either of the current councilmen and is running because he chose to.
“My main focus in running for council is the lack of leadership I have seen in District 2,” he said.
Councilman Lewis offered “no comment” in regard to the handout or its claims. When asked if he has disbursed any campaign materials for the election Lewis said, “I don’t want to talk about it.”
The campaign letter, titled “Let’s Keep Gary Lewis on Our City Council,” also makes an accusation that Britt and Chance “are not concerned for the welfare of the people of Statesboro.”
“Are you kidding me? How have I ever not acted in the best manner for the people of Statesboro,” said Britt. “‘Unethical’ is clearly the word I would use for this. It is a lie and [Lewis] has not backed it up with truth. It’s ugly. I just don’t know why he would do this.”
“How can any sane person, with one shred of common sense, on Gary Lewis’ campaign, or Gary Lewis, allege that I don’t have the best interest of the citizens at heart when I have been the most vocal councilman against paying out almost $1 million and wasting taxpayer money,” said Chance. “I have been the most vocal against things being done behind the scenes and not disclosing financial ties to projects”
“I have not participated and will not participate in doing anything that is not above board, like hiring friends of mine to fill positions,” he said. “How can Councilman Lewis’ campaign allege that I have anything but the best interest of the citizens of Statesboro at heart?”
Chance and Britt will run opposed in November for council seats representing districts three (Britt) and five (Chance).
A public forum is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 27 at the Honey Bowen Building for citizens to meet and question District 2 candidates. Lewis declined an invite to participate in the event.
Election Day for Statesboro city elections is scheduled for Tuesday, November 8.
Jeff Harrison can be reached at (912) 489-9454